NEW DELHI: Former Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chairman K Kasturirangan says the space agency has a proper mechanism to deal with cyber security threats. The veteran scientist, who led the space agency for nine years, gave the statement when asked about a report that alerts were sent to Isro about threats from North Korean hackers just before the Vikram lander's scheduled moon landing date on September 7 this year.
Giving an interview to TOI on the sidelines of 12th convocation ceremony at Teri School of Advanced Studies here, Kasturirangan said, "Though I am not aware of any specific alert provided to the space agency, what I can say is Isro has a process to deal with such (hacking) alerts. There are experts and engineers in Isro who look at it. I am sure they have gone through the process. Nothing is taken lightly by Isro. Isro is extremely serious to deal with every input it gets directly or indirectly. As engineers know their systems well, they will make sure it (cyber security issue) is truly understood. This is the Isro culture."
Talking about Chandrayaan-2 mission, Kasturirangan, an honorary adviser to Isro, said, "Isro has gone into all possibilities of failures and anomalies. It is an opportunity to learn things which otherwise we would not have known. We should be able to correct and improve things. When Isro makes the announcement about Chandrayaan-3, it knows things it needs to address so that even more ambitious missions can be achieved in future."
Whether there is a chance of the revival of Vikram lander lying on Moon's surface, he said, "There is no declared direction in which Isro has confident that Vikram lander will come back, but Isro will continue to explore ways so that it can be revived. Luck would have it if certain things can happen."
The scientist said the "Gaganyaan is a very complex mission". "It includes multiple dimensions of technologies like engineering, science and users. We are learning in the process and preparing for it. Government has given us a deadline to launch the mission by 75th year of independence and we are trying our best. It is a good challenge," he said.
When asked why Nasa satellite images are preferred for spotting farm fires cases in Delhi's neighbourhood when Isro too has several specific satellites, Kasturirangan, who is also the chairman of committee on national education policy, told TOI, "Isro has acquired images of stubble burning, quantified it and provided information on time variation of the stubble burning process. A mechanism is being instituted to provide this kind of data to concerned authorities."
On the role of satellites in better prediction of severe cyclones, he said, "With advanced geo satellites, we can now predict cyclone landfall accuracy up to 50-60km. Such accurate information helps in evacuation much in advance. Isro's (Ahmedabad-based) Space Applications Centre provides such data and creates accurate cyclone models along with IMD, and provides advance warning to state and local authorities through MHA.
Satellites can now catch formative stages of cyclones even when they are several 100km away. They can monitor the movement of cyclones as sensors have large visibility zone up to the size of a continent. The satellites can now take cyclone pictures in the interval of 15 minutes. With optimal images and thermal images, we can even see the eye of a cyclone. With basic parameters of cyclone formation and atmospheric parameters like temperature, wind velocity and pressure, we can now create a model and predict the track that a cyclone takes."
Talking about the monitoring of glaciers, the Padma awardee who is also the chancellor of Central University of Rajasthan, said the "satellite system is monitoring 5,000 locations in the Himalayas for glacier melting. Fringes of glaciers can be monitored with fringe detection system -- analysis of whether there is an accumulation or recession of glaciers on a timely basis. Ground-based technological studies complement satellite data, which provides accurate data about glacier melting."Read More
Dr K Kasturirangan was addressing the twelfth annual convocation of TERI School of Advanced Studies (SAS) held today.
NEW DELHI: Liberal education as a foundational component in higher education, is being increasingly recognised as a crucial 21st century educational component, to prepare the future youth, to successfully face the dynamic and complex job environment, said Dr K Kasturirangan in his address during the twelfth annual convocation of TERI School of Advanced Studies (SAS) held today.
A total of 19 doctoral degrees and 229 master's degrees were awarded at the convocation by the Chief Guest Dr Kasturirangan.
"How exactly institutions like TERI SAS can bring concepts of liberal education into the present mainstream educational system is worth giving a thought at this juncture", he added.
"My best wishes go with you for your success and for achieving what you have been aspiring and dreaming. To have had the opportunity to study at this institution of higher learning is a matter of privilege to each one of you. May the value system that this institution has instilled in you inspire you to set high standards in all your future endeavors," he told the graduating students.
The TERI School of Advanced Studies recognized Dr Kasturirangan's contributions to the ?eld of sustainability and education, and conferred the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, honoris causa, upon the former Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Prof Manipadma Datta, Vice-Chancellor, TERI SAS and Dr Shailesh Nayak, Chancellor of TERI SAS also addressed the students in the convocation function.Read More
New Delhi: TERI School of Advanced Studies is hosting a three-day international workshop and meeting on Sustainable Forestry in South Asia: Current Status, Science and Conservation Priorities from 7th to 9th November 2019 in New Delhi.
The meeting is being held as part of the NASA Land Cover/Land Use Change Program funded South/Southeast Asia Research Initiative and in collaboration with several international partners including Global Observation of Forest and Land Cover Dynamics (GOFC–GOLD), Virginia Tech University, University of Maryland College Park, USA, Michigan State University, USA, Columbia University, USA, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA, NASA SERVIR, START, etc.
The first day of the conference began with inaugural addresses by various stakeholders. In his welcome address, Prof. Manipadma Datta, Vice Chancellor, TERI SAS, started with a quote by Rabindranath Tagore: Give back the forest, take your town. He added, “Forests mean nature and we are the products of nature. It is difficult to over emphasize the role of forest in human civilization. We must be respectful to nature as we’re the beings of mother earth”. Congratulating all the delegates he remarked, “Forest is the integral part of nature, and there needs to be a conscious effort in reconnecting humanity/human development with nature.”
The day included some very thought-provoking sessions. The session on Status of Forest Cover/Resources in South Asia Countries included technical presentations on forest cover/resources status from Forest Department representatives of India, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
This was followed by an engaging panel discussion on Remote Sensing of Forestry Research Priorities, where regional priorities were identified. These are as follows: i) Need of capacity building in using advanced remote sensing technology to improve accuracy of forest map; ii) Integration of remote sensing data with non-remote sensing data sets such as census data and migration data; iii) Validation of global forest products for use at national level.
The day culminated with a session on Mapping and Monitoring of Forest Cover and Wetlands Including Degradation, where J K Garg, Senior Fellow, Department of Natural Resources at TERI SAS remarked, “Forest integrity is paramount to preservation of ecosystem integrity of wetlands. And the EBV’s (Essential Biodiversity Variables) are of immense use in establishing a strong link between wetland biodiversity and catchment health”.Read More
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This World Environment Day, the new Environment Minister in the Modi government is faced with a host of challenges.
Says E Somanathan, Professor, Economics and Planning Unit, Indian Statistical Institute: “To curb the prevailing (environmental) issues, an independent regulatory body should be constituted.”
The recent Lok Sabha elections may not have debated environment and the looming crisis, but the challenges are there for all to see.
The fast-growing urban areas in our country are fast becoming unlivable. The unacceptably high levels of pollution in several cities, including in Delhi, shows a serious disconnect between the prevalent patterns of urbanization, consumption choices and the environmental concerns.
“We need a correct balance of ecology and economics”, says Hem Pandey, Former Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). He further opines, “India as a highly populated country with a growing economy and per capita income requires not just implementation of environmental policies but also require scientific and technical support.”
Somanathan informs, “Whenever we burn coal or oil that causes pollution, we have to track all the pollutants involved. The government needs to have a regulatory body to track how much damage is done by various pollutants and put a fee on them appropriately. Due to this fee, people will find those things expensive to use. A pollutant fee for coal, petrol and other pollutants will help the government mitigate the environmental problems.”
Considering the current crisis of water, he adds, “The overarching problem of water scarcity is seeping into the urban cities with the recent case of Chennai etc. The main issue of extraction of groundwater is one of the major causes which is primarily used in agriculture. To curb this, farmers should be given Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) wherein they should pay for the electricity which is currently given free of cost and further conserve water”.
Anand Sharma, Member of Rajya Sabha and Chairman of Standing Committee Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), on the other hand, says: “The prevailing gap between the poor and rich growing is one of the major causes of all these problems”.
The state of the air we breathe
Seventy cities breathe excessively polluted air irrespective of major overarching schemes of various governments. Somanathan says, “We don’t really have a policy. There is no body that is doing a comprehensive assessment of the situation. Moreover, there are various sources adding to the problem of air pollution. We don’t have a technical body comprising of scientists and economists which can assess the situation. However, we need a pollution fee for all the pollutants which will automatically direct people to use cleaner ways of doing things which will decrease the pollution levels tremendously. Pandey adds, “The biggest challenge for India today is not the policies and legal framework for the Environment Ministry but a collative measure of all the sectors where mitigation actions of the growth and development are to be met by state-of-the-art technology.”
How prepared we are as a country:
Climate change leading to more disasters including an increase in the frequency of droughts as well as floods are creating havoc not in India but in other parts of the globe as well. “We need much better planning of reservoirs, information system which should be available to the public and be transparent also. Lack in coordination between the IMD and the authorities which manage the dams and reservoirs also leads to various problems during disasters. We need people with specializations in scientific expertise.
"We need to replicate the institutional structure that is there in developed countries. We need an independent environmental agency that automatically funds and hires all the technical support in terms of manpower and other equipment independently. Currently, we lack all this in the system. Our ministry which is a political body is unsuitable for scientific and technical work. We need to separate scientific and technical decision making from political decision making," adds Somanathan.
Further, Leena Shrivastava, Vice Chancellor of TERI School of Advanced Studies adds, "India needs to prepare a strategy for a Green Economy incorporating concepts of a resource efficient, circular economy. Environmental issues in the industry have to be mainstreamed and not considered as a separate project clearance requirement. All industry activity must be driven towards a net-zero impact outcome in a defined time-frame of five years. In essence, environmental policy should get the same importance as the fiscal policy – after all the environment is rapidly becoming one of the most scarce and endangered factors of production."
With the current state of affairs, economics and environment go hand-in-hand.
The incumbent Environment Minister clearly has his task cut out.
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